A dentist from Louisville, Dr. John McClelland, recently patented a process that converts cotton, flax, and other vegetable fibers into a hard and solid substance with a texture and quality like horn or ivory. It was patented at about the same time by an Englishman, after whom the material, Parkensite, is named. The new material is easy to mold when it is in a plastic state, so McClelland used it as dental plates in place of natural gums. It can also be dyed. Its inventors had very high hopes for it, thinking that it could be used in the manufacture of combs, buttons, and various other items, as well as creating imitation tortoise shells and coral. The South had always been dependent on the North to process its raw cotton. There were cotton mills in every state, but about 87% of them were in the North, particularly New England and Pennsylvania. The invention of this new process gave the South a use for cotton that would not result in reliance on the North.
"A Triumph of Louisville Ingenuity," Southern Recorder, August 4, 1868, 1.
"Cotton and Its Manufacture," Montgomery Daily Advertiser, reprinted from the New York Times, November 17, 1868, 1.